Gaddafi compound bunker, tunnel maze

2011-08-25 22:20

Tripoli - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's plundered Bab al-Aziziya compound is a maze of dark tunnels and bunkers that reputedly also houses an Olympic size swimming pool and a garage for luxury cars.

"It's the money of the Libyan people which paid for all of this," commented Said, 35, on Thursday, a date after his release from a prison where he languished for several weeks for having demonstrated against Gaddafi's regime.

"They ripped out my nails," he told AFP in the warren of rooms, adding that he was now looking for compensation in the tunnels full of debris, scattered clothing, food and empty bullet magazines.

A large room contained dozens of notebooks on several tables, and shelves full of hard drives and computer servers.

The bedrooms, vandalized like the other structures, had their beds and mattresses ripped open. A weapons cache lay scattered nearby along with a dirty Russian body armour.

Brazilian plastic surgeon Liacyr Ribeiro, who operated on Gaddafi in 1994 for under-eye bags, shared details Wednesday in Rio De Janeiro about his rare visit to the long time Libyan leader's "amazing" bunker.

Ribeiro was participating in a medical conference in Tripoli when Libya's health minister at the time asked him to "examine someone dear to me".

"I thought it was his wife," said the 70-year-old doctor. "I went with him in his car, but when we arrived I realised it was Gaddafi. The entrance of the bunker was a zigzag shape, and they made me wait in the library."

In a tent

Then they lead Ribeiro to a building "where there was a tent".

"It was there that Gaddafi greeted me," said the surgeon. "I told him it was too dark to examine him there, and he took me into a very modern dental office.

"It was amazing! I did not at all expect to see such a thing," he added of the bunker, where he said there was a gym with an Olympic-sized pool.

"At the time Gaddafi was in very good physical form," added Ribeiro, who said he returned a year later to perform a hair implant operation.

Among dozens of people interviewed on Thursday in Bab al-Aziziya, many said they had heard of the pool and a garage full of luxury cars. But no one had seen it or knew its location.

Despite the occasional bullets slamming into the walls of the compound, hundreds of rebels and civilians scrambled across the complex in search of booty - be it air conditioning units or golden chandeliers.

One young man was even seen filling an entire truck with furniture, carpets, blankets and television sets.

"We think there are snipers," said Fawzi Maktuf, 23, as he drove a pick-up truck mounted with an anti-aircraft gun. "We have arrested someone who was firing, but there are bullets from time to time."

Read more on:    muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings
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